A substantial part of the budget of a transportation company is spent on the fuel costs for their bus fleet. As a result, fuel economy and performance is on the mind of every transportation company. One of the surest ways of saving fuel cost is to contract with local gas stations on the route and purchase fuel at wholesale prices rather than retail. Another is to use a fuel price application on their mobile phone to locate nearby fuel dealers with the lowest current prices. These actions can substantially reduce the cost of fuel per gallon providing real savings for the company. Another strategy one may think of is to purchase larger buses with diesel engines since most of the 15 passenger minibusses are equipped with gasoline engines. Diesel is cheaper than gasoline, but diesel engine equipped vehicles are more expensive in the first place. Buyers will have to pay for a larger (usually a mid-sized bus) and thousands of additional dollars upfront and many will not have the financial resources or passenger demand to do that. Even so, owners and managers can move a step ahead and adopt specific methods to further reduce the cost of fuel and reduce expenses for their business. Cutting down fuel costs is extremely important for a transportation company because it has the potential to either make or break the business. While only a small percentage of the business revenue is spent on fuel, the balance is spent on depreciation and insurance followed by drivestaff compensation, repairs, and maintenance. Clearly, fuel plays a very important role in the success of the business. Reducing the cost of fuel by as little as 5% will automatically increase the profits which will be a significant amount irrespective of whether the business is a startup or operates a fleet of many buses.
In order to reduce fuel cost, one needs to understand the science behind how fuel is consumed by the vehicle’s engine. Once owners and managers have a good idea of the fuel consumption of their vehicles, they will be in a better position to methodically cut down on fuel costs. Different vehicles consume varying amounts of fuel, for example, a new bus will give better mileage than a used bus because the former has a brand new engine whereas the later's engine has been in use for several years and may have less efficiency compared to newer vehicles and those that have more wear and tear during their use. Remember that engine mileage is different from the overall bus because wear and tear are different that you may read in the vehicle description because engine hours are a relevant factor. Most gasoline engines have a lifespan of hundreds of thousands of miles and do not require major repairs until they have had years of use. A brand new bus for sale will have an engine with no miles whereas a used or second-hand bus for sale may have more miles on its engine, it may have clogged filters, worn out fuel injectors or spark plugs, causing an obvious difference in its fuel economy.
The average performance of a 15 passenger gasoline-powered shuttle bus or minibus for sale is between 7 and 12 miles per gallon. The best way to find out the approximate number is to discuss your vehicle use pattern and schedule with a knowledgeable dealer. Alternatively, if buyers are purchasing a used bus online from distant locations then they can hire a 3rd party inspection company and ask them to conduct a test drive on the vehicle and check for maintenance records and other signs of wear and tear. When possible, a buyer should either request a bigger discount or simply move on to the next vehicle. This is the first step in managing and reducing the cost of fuel after purchase. Buyers should also ask to see fuel records if possible because it will give them a clear idea of what operating the bus will be like.
Understanding Drag and Resistance:
When two objects rub against each other they produce heat and friction. In the case of automobiles, its surface parts are creating resistance referred to as drag, the friction thus produced leads to higher levels of fuel consumption and wear and tear of its components. Oils of different quality referred to as synthetic or semi-synthetic are often used to keep heat and friction low thus enabling freer movement. When a vehicle moves forward on a road it encounters several types of internal and external friction which try to slow it down. When friction is high, the engine experiences more load and resistance during operations, as a result, it burns more fuel to generate the power to cut through the friction and move forward. This leads to higher fuel consumption and poor operating performance. Examples of external friction include that between the tires and road surface, atmospheric air, and the vehicle's body. Examples of internal friction include that between the piston and engine block, transmission and gearbox, axle and universal joints, etc. Eliminating or reducing these friction points will reduce the load and resistance the engine experiences during operation and leads to low fuel consumption, which automatically increases the fuel economy. Oils are used as lubricants in the engine, transmission, and differential can minimize internal friction. The owner is advised to use high-grade original oils to ensure that all the internal moving parts are sufficiently lubricated. Low-quality oils will cost less initially but in the long run, cause premature wear and tear on the internal parts as they have less viscosity, work at higher and undesirable temperatures, and carry more contaminants. External friction points are reduced by eliminating a direct head-on confrontation with the flow of air. A box-shaped rectangular body will block the passage of air thus increasing drag and resistance the engine experiences. Air should be allowed free passage around the vehicle instead of blocking it head-on. The reduced confrontation will reduce the resistance and load on the engine thus leading to higher fuel performance. This smooth flow of air around the vehicle's body is called Aerodynamics. A bus with an aerodynamic body design will save fuel and provide higher fuel performance. Similarly, the friction between tires and road surface can be reduced by maintaining proper inflation and replacing old and worn out tires with modern scientifically designed energy saving tires. They should also have the recommended air pressure because underinflation will increase the friction with the road surface and over-inflation can reduce their lifespan.
Thus it can be rightfully said that the best way to increase fuel performance is to find ways to eliminate or reduce the internal and external friction a vehicle experiences while in motion. Following best practices and procedures will go a long way in saving fuel costs. An improvement of just one or two miles per gallon of fuel every day or trip will save thousands of dollars annually. These small efforts will have a cumulative impact on the transportation company's bottom-line and that's our bottom-line in this article.
It's the smooth flow of air through the vehicle body. Air is omnipresent and it should not block or hinder the vehicle’s forward movement. Remember that the aerodynamics cannot be changed once the bus leaves the factory, hence try to purchase a bus that already has rounded edges, wind fenders, and side skirts. Another way to improve the aerodynamics of your 15 passenger shuttle bus for sale is:
Close all windows when operating at highway speeds. Keeping the windows open will allow the air to flow inside and resist the forward movement, thus increasing the resistance and load on the engine and increasing fuel consumption.
Overloading and Engine size:
Every automobile has a maximum load capacity which should not be exceeded under any circumstances. Most mini and midi used buses for sale have a payload capacity of two to five tons. If exceeded, then there is a risk of permanently damaging the engine and the body structure even after the vehicle has been vacated. Research has shown that a fully loaded bus will emit 9% more gases than a bus that is empty or partially loaded because the engine has to work harder to transport the additional weight over the same distance. Fifteen obese passengers with their luggage can easily exceed a ton. More passengers mean more stress on the engine. Operators can’t compensate for the loss of fuel by charging an extra fee like a surcharge to the additional passengers and pay the fuel bill because the overloading will subject the engine to wear and tear thus shortening its overall life. If done frequently, the bus will have premature engine wear. On the flip side, the more passengers are carried in a single trip the more profits are made in the transportation industry. Managers thus have to be judicious in their approach and maintain a healthy balance between overloading and engine performance. It's better not to exceed the maximum load capacity. Most small buses for sale have traditionally been equipped either with a V-8 or a V-10 engine. Buyers should always opt for the larger engine when buying a 15 passenger shuttle bus for sale because bigger engines will have more power and thus will be able to carry more passengers and will offset the fuel loss of size by operation at a lower power level thereby extending engine life with a minimal impact on fuel economy. There is really no substitute for buying a powerful engine in the transportation industry even if they are a bit more expensive than smaller engines. Remember that smaller engines have to work harder and perform more rotations per minute(rpm) than bigger engines or operate at higher friction levels to cover the same distance. They have to work still harder traveling upwards over mountainous terrain. However, small engines burn as much fuel as bigger engines in other instances. In short, buy a bus with the biggest engine when practical, it will make more money over the long run.
Smooth Acceleration & Braking:
Drivers should be well trained and professional when driving. They should accelerate, decelerate, and apply brakes in a smooth and gradual manner. They should make longer runs and take the highway whenever possible. Rapid acceleration or deceleration jolts and stresses on the engine which in turn burns more fuel to cope with the sudden demand for increase or decrease in power output. The increase in fuel consumption may not be obvious initially but it will definitely have an impact over time and thus reduce income for that year. It is crucial to train drivers and monitor their behavior with classroom simulations on a regular basis. Most buyers chose to buy a 15 passenger shuttle bus for sale because of their small size and easy maneuverability. They can navigate through narrow streets and busy highways with ease due to short length and small turning radius. However, operating at lower gear and less speed increases fuel consumption, hence the driver should always try to take the highway and drive on distance efficient routes to reduce fuel consumption.
Apart from increased fuel consumption, rapid acceleration, deceleration, and braking increase wear and tear on the engine and leads to passenger discomfort too because rapid acceleration will push the passengers backward and sudden deceleration or braking will push them forward. The increased passenger discomfort will be bad for the reputation of your business because nobody wants to travel in a vehicle with an unprofessional driver.
The use of air conditioners increases fuel consumption by 10 - 25% because it is powered by fan belts which draw their energy from the vehicle's engine. It's better to turn the air conditioner on and then turn it off as frequently as possible to save fuel. If the bus is operating in local areas, then it's better to open the windows and let fresh air in however, if it's operating at highway speeds then opening the windows will also consume more fuel because it affects the aerodynamics of the bus and increases air drag also called air resistance (as explained above). In other words, turning on the air conditioner or opening the windows will both consume more fuel. It's important to maintain a balance between the two so as not to compromise with passenger comfort, especially on long distances. Training the driver to turn the A/C on and off at regular intervals is the better option.
Servicing the engine at regular schedules is important to increase its fuel performance. A filthy and poorly maintained engine will consume more fuel than a clean engine. For example, the engine's filters are used to filter the oil of contaminants, if it gets clogged then the engine will be emitting more exhaust fumes than an engine with clean filters. Particles of carbon and metal will also lead to premature engine failure. Similarly, the performance of other engine parts like fuel injectors, crankshafts, pistons, etc. can be compromised due to poor maintenance, thus stressing the engine.
A poorly maintained engine can even get the owners in trouble because members of the public are encouraged to report vehicles that emit too much exhaust fumes or smoke. Moreover, poorly maintained engines often make more noise thus creating additional noise pollution which will not be appreciated by passengers.
If there are drops of fluid below the engine or the vehicle smells like gas, then there is a leakage in the fuel system that needs to be fixed immediately because gasoline is highly inflammable. Leakages are one of the best ways to lose fuel and it's important to fix them before they create a dangerous situation. Under normal circumstances, there should be no smell of gasoline while driving but when there is, it signals an opening in the fuel system through which raw fuel and vapors are able to escape. The problem could be with the engine, leakage in the fuel tank, fuel line, or exhaust system that is allowing the gas vapors to escape and create a bad odor. Sometimes just a broken or worn-out fuel cap could be causing the problem and it should be replaced immediately or after a few years in use. But if the fuel cap is intact and you don't see any leaks on the ground either, this indicates there is a problem higher up in the engine. It might be a leaking fuel injector, exhaust or intake manifold, or worn engine rings or cylinder heads. Gas is a volatile and explosive chemical, it can combust instantly outside a hot engine and start a fire, thus severely damaging the bus and endangering the passengers and driver. Thus, it is important to get a professional to have a closer look at the fuel system to detect and isolate the leaking components and repair or replace them immediately.
Premium tires have low rolling resistance and more grip on the road. The reduced resistance reduces the overall drag on the vehicle, thus reducing stress on the engine which leads to reduced fuel consumption. This is the best way to increase fuel performance without any trade-offs. Replace the old tires of the 15 passenger shuttle bus for sale with premium-grade tires and make sure optimal pressure is maintained throughout the day. Tires can lose up to 1 psi (pounds per square inch) every month or with every 5-degree change in temperature. Without a closer inspection, the tires will keep losing pressure every month. An underinflated tire will have more resistance/drag/friction with the road and will lead to more fuel consumption, whereas overinflated tires can lead to wear and tear and even get punctured. Always, keep a good tire gauge handy and pump them up to the recommended level by the manufacturers every month because the human eye is not the best tool to measure tire pressure. A tire can quickly flatten due to due punctures, leaking valve stems, bad tire bead or wheel rim interface, and still appear to be completely normal. Moreover, if the tire is losing more than 2 psi a month, then it needs immediate attention from a qualified service professional. Tire inflation pressure should be checked only when they are cold when the bus has been parked for more than 3 hours. Normal driving causes the tires to heat up thus increasing the inflation level. Reducing inflation of a heated tire can severely under-inflate it.
With anything of value, there are people on the lookout for opportunities to steal fuel. Ensure that your fuel caps are securely fastened before driving and when parked. Secure onsite fuel storage tanks for safety as well as theft. This practice will not only prevent the fuel from being siphoned out but will also prevent thefts at night. Spilled fuel is hazardous to nature and can cost the lives of other road users because it is slippery and combustible. Clean up any spilled fuel and replace the fuel cap immediately if found broken or worn out. Using a rag will not prevent spillage and definitely not deter potential thieves.
With the ever-increasing cost of fuel, people are always trying to find cheaper solutions. Gas stations are selling cheap oils because it's in demand and helps them make quick profits too. These oils are not well refined, have poor viscosity characteristics, and carry more impurities than synthetic oils, they have a lot of contaminants too which over time clogs up the engine and subjects its moving parts to high levels of wear and tear. These cheap oils will not be able to lubricate the engine properly which will lead to increased heat and friction between the working components of the engine thus increasing its fuel consumption. The engine can be noisier as well because its moving parts will be sliding against other parts with less lubrication in between.
Reduce Speed and Drive in a Higher Gear:
Researchers have found that fuel consumption increases when staying at low gears for too long. Though the maximum power to accelerate a vehicle comes at low gears, they must be increased to higher gears as soon as possible. Driving at high gear increases fuel economy because less effort is needed to rotate the engine's crankshaft. But driving at too low or too high speeds also increases fuel consumption. Any vehicle burns more fuel when driving fast, hence the best way to save fuel is to drive at lower speeds. Driving slow at the highest gear also increases fuel consumption.
Hence, drive at higher gears but not the highest gear and reduce the speed of the bus to moderate to reduce its fuel consumption. Modern automatic transmissions are equipped to be in the correct gear to maximize fuel consumption. Drivers should not be overriding the automatically selected gear in almost all situations.
Turn off the Engine:
The engine will keep burning fuel as long as it is turned on. Turning off the engine whenever stopping for a long duration will reduce fuel consumption. But this should not be done too frequently because after turning on more fuel is consumed while accelerating than while driving. Campers may sometimes keep the engine on throughout the night to keep the air conditioning and other equipment like the entertainment system on. This is a bad practice and illegal in most locations. Buses automatically switch to battery power when the engine is switched off. Though every bus has batteries big enough to power its various onboard equipment except for air conditioning and heat, campers employ additional accessories for their personal needs like microwave ovens, TVs, and refrigerators thus stressing out the batteries. It will be good practice for campers to install solar panels on the rooftop to recharge the battery rather than depend on the engine to power their equipment. This will make them energy efficient as well as save fuel in the long run.
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